Advice from the Enlightenment

Way before He’s Just Not That Into You, there was Emilie Du Chatelet, scientist, writer, gambler, philosopher. Mistress of Voltaire.  Here’s a little bit of cold hard 18th century advice on love & other liaisons…

The great secret for preventing love from making us unhappy is to try never to appear in the wrong with your lover, never to display eagerness when his love is cooling, and always to be a degree cooler than he. This will not bring him back, but nothing could bring him back, there is nothing for us to do then but to forget someone who ceases to love us. If he still loves you, nothing can revive his love and make it as fiery as it was at first, except the fear of losing you and of being less loved. I know that for the susceptible and sincere this secret is difficult to put into practice, however, no effort will be too great, all the more so as it is much more necessary for the susceptible and sincere than for others.

Nothing degrades as much as the steps one takes to regain a cold or inconstant heart.  This demeans us in the eyes of the one we seek to keep, and in those of other men who might take an interest in us. But, and this is even worse, it makes us unhappy and uselessly torments us. So we must follow this maxim with unwavering courage and never surrender to our own heart on this point. From ‘Discourse on Happiness’

You can read more about Mme Du Chatelet’s life in Passionate Minds or Voltaire in Love – they’re both good! The latter’s by my favourite, Nancy Mitford, apparently she has all the science parts v WRONG (I didn’t notice!), but more than makes up for it with witty asides.


June 10, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , . boys.

One Comment

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